When it’s half term and all the playgroups are off, what do you do? I mean, apart from watching Frozen? There’s the park, but it’s muddy and there are other children there; other children who also expect to use the slide and the swings. I don’t like mud and my two-year-old doesn’t like other children. At least not when they try to have go on what she believes to be her slide and her swings. And then there’s the cold, the excruciating cold. So we decided to stay in and, as much as I love Frozen, I knew that at some point I’d have to get up and see what the 2-year-old was doing in the other room. However, just as I was thinking that, she came running out of her room with a tub of Play Dough – the tub of Play Dough she got in a party bag; the only tub of Play Dough she owns. I had planned to hide it away until she reached an age where she could be trusted with Play Dough (sixteen), but it didn’t get hidden because she is now two and only about 5% of the things I plan to do actually get done.
Anyway, there was no way around it now. We were going to play with Play Dough. D’oh.
Bracing myself for a Play Dough vs fluffy rug disaster, I placed my daughter in a high chair with a lump of dough in front of her. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. She only tried to eat it three or four times and, in the 15 minutes before she got bored with it, she managed to create some very interesting pieces. While I was messing around with conventional things like a snowman and pancakes, just look at what she achieved with 28 grams of Play Dough:
This work, provisionally titled “Some Rubbish,” is a remarkable piece of social realism, insightfully portraying the streets of the town we live in.
Entitled “A Bed Where the Play Dough Goes to Sleep” this work explores the artists own feelings of boredom with the task before her and the viewer senses an implicit critique of Play Dough itself, which is becoming irrelevant as a medium.
Our “baby” has just turned two years old. Thank you, we’re very proud of having made it this far. Two years of nappy changes. Two years of lukewarm coffees. Two years of deliberately watching rubbish films in the evening because we know we will fall asleep halfway through anyway.
This seems to be around the time when people start asking if you’re going to have another one. The answer is …are you out of your mind? You’re asking if now, that we are finally getting 9 hour stretches of sleep we are going to start all over again with the 3am mustardy nappy changes? No! Well, maybe in a few years when this one is old enough to change nappies. And by then we will be too old, so the answer is probably still no.
However – just in case we might accidentally make a little brother or sister, you know, by accident or in a moment of madness – we have compiled a little list of some of the valuable lessons we have learned this time around.
Notes to self:
- Take advantage of the baby being small, non-verbal and completely immobile. They can be easily taken to restaurants, since they don’t really care where they are as long as you are there too. Once they start to walk you will find yourself attempting to restrain a kicking, screaming toddler headed for the kitchen at Ask, with a fork in her hand. And she will have eaten none of her own lunch and half of yours. Bringing a baby, peacefully breastfeeding while mummy eats her lunch with her free hand is a piece of cake. A nice piece of cake which you will have for pudding while the baby sleeps.
- Do not buy a nice, soft, thick and perfectly RAISIN COLOURED rug. Yes, it will be nice and soft to fall on in the couple of months when the baby is learning to sit. But after that she will be using it mainly for dropping raisins on. And those raisins will immediately disappear into the fluffy depths of the rug never to be seen again. It’s probably made up of about 30% raisin at this point.
- Never run out of kitchen roll.
- A breastfed baby does need to be burped. Don’t believe the NTC breastfeeding expert who tries to tell you that trapped wind and projectile vomiting is only for bottle feeding families. Remember the rivers of warm sick. In your hair. In your shoe. In your coffee. Burping is important.
- NEVER run out of kitchen roll.
- Don’t buy toys. The brightly coloured, noisy plastic things will simply accumulate around the house while the baby desperately tries to get to your phone, keys and remote control. And yes, the plastic pretend keys, phone and remote control will also be left untouched.
- Resist the temptation to encourage cute mispronounced first words. For months you enjoyed the word “boom boom bee”. It meant bumblebee. It was so cute that you could not bring yourself to correct her when she called the ladybird a boom boom bee. And now look what you’ve done. She may have learned to say bumblebee but she will for the rest of her life be confused about the difference between ladybirds and bumblebees.
- Do not tell all your friends that you will do lots of baking and cooking things from scratch with your home grown vegetables. You know very well that none of that will happen.
- Don’t read baby books. Especially the ones that use the word “training” on every page. You are bringing up a small human, not a dog, and the small human will do none of the things the books tell you they should be doing.
- Before you buy your child a plastic Santa straw that says “Ho ho ho, have a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!” every time juice is sucked through it, consider how much you will enjoy listening to this in July, when she will still want to use it.
This list is of course a work in progress. Watch this space for important updates.